And the winner of the 2010 Village Voice/L.A. Weekly Film Critics Poll is … The Ghost Writer, Black Swan, Greenberg, Bluebeard, Mother, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Enter the Void.
Just kidding. There's only one movie of the moment: The Social Network.
Listed on 52 of 85 ballots cast (the largest percentage of any poll-topping movie since Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven won in 2002), David Fincher's Birth of a Cyber Nation, directed from Aaron Sorkin's script, took the 11th annual Voice poll, just as it captured critics' awards in New York, Los Angeles and Boston. Old media acknowledges new. The last time a newly anointed Time “Person of the Year” like Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg got the simultaneous Hollywood treatment was back in 1943 (Joe Stalin, Mission to Moscow).
Truly, 2010 was the year of the globalistic rogue — runner-up to the Zuckerberg story was Carlos, Olivier Assayas' five-and-a-half-hour saga of the most notorious international terrorist of the 1970s, while Exit Through the Gift Shop, by art-world mystery man/prankster Banksy, handily won both Best Documentary (or “documentary”) and Best First Film.
Jesse Eisenberg's Zuckerberg defeated Édgar Ramirez's Carlos for Best Actor (although in the real world, both their Google numbers combined — plus Banksy's — are but a ridiculous fraction of the 131 million citations for global rogue Julian Assange, whose biopic is surely to come).
The poll's top three movies all but swept the table. Sorkin overwhelmingly won for Best Screenplay; Assayas edged Fincher for Best Director. Meanwhile, third-place Winter's Bone, Debra Granik's indie backwoods thriller, collected a pair of awards: Feisty teenager Jennifer Lawrence pirouetted past Black Swan's Natalie Portman for Best Actress and John Hawkes out-blustered The Fighter's Christian Bale for Best Supporting Actor, although in the battle for Best Supporting (lowlife) Actress, Bone's Dale Dickey lost to Animal Kingdom's Jacki Weaver.
The rest of the Top 10 are a decidedly mixed bag: Roman Polanski's absurdist political thriller The Ghost Writer finished fourth, followed by a couple of surprise foreign films, Maren Ade's acerbic relationship comedy Everyone Else and Giorgios Lanthimos' allegorical family drama Dogtooth. Darren Aronofsky's madcap Black Swan came in seventh, just ahead of Alain Resnais' even madder Wild Grass, tied with Bong Joon-ho's Hitchcockian murder mystery Mother and followed by the year's top-grossing movie, Toy Story 3.
The poll has a few anomalies. Three critics named movies as the year's best that figured on no one else's ballots: the Nicholas Winding Refn viking fest Valhalla Rising, documentary The Tillman Story and Rodrigo García's adoption drama Mother and Child. But these are proudly declared individual statements. Movies are more generally a collective art and social phenomenon.
As box office receipts measure popularity, polls manifest consensus. What's really fascinating is intensity of feeling. Each poll has a hidden story, revealing those movies that are not only liked but really liked or even passionately lurved. Carlos may have appeared on significantly fewer ballots than The Social Network, but it garnered more first-place votes and had a higher average score. To quantify this sort of intensity, we've derived a primitive algorithm (factoring a movie's average score with the percentage of voters listing it first or second) known as the Passiondex™.
Application of the Passiondex™ to movies listed by at least three critics yields a somewhat different list of winners, headed by the bleak, violent Red Riding Trilogy (No. 26). Substantially trailing that critical cult winner are Manoel de Oliveira's blandly eccentric Strange Case of Angelica (No. 29); Carlos; Chang-dong Lee's epic crime drama Secret Sunshine (No. 16); Todd Solondz's dark comedy Life During Wartime (No. 35); Jessica Hausner's deadpan religious satire Lourdes (No. 24); Miguel Gomes' not-quite music doc Our Beloved Month of August (No. 20); Toy Story 3; and Dogtooth. (That Lourdes, Dogtooth and Life During Wartime all received votes as the year's worst film just enhances their cult status.) Tied with Dogtooth, and just ahead of Greenberg (No. 18) on the pash list: The Social Network.